A child hefts a water container in  Jozini  in northern KwaZulu-Natal.   Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
A child hefts a water container in Jozini in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

THE newly elected mayor of Jozini local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal, Delani Mabika, has promised to fight corruption, saying he has instituted investigations into "suspicious" tenders awarded by his predecessors in the past few years.

The municipality was run through a coalition of the ANC and the National Freedom Party until the August 3 municipal elections.

Neither the ANC nor the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) managed to get an outright majority, resulting in Jozini becoming one of the nine hung municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal.

Jozini, along with Nquthu local municipality, was particularly problematic, having failed to constitute a council due to political bickering that saw councillors walking out amid accusations of a conspiracy to sabotage the election of new municipal office bearers.

But last week the IFP’s Mabika was elected mayor of Jozini, thanks to a coalition between his party, the DA and the EFF.

Mabika told BDlive on Wednesday that an investigation into "dodgy" tenders would begin in earnest.

"We want to hit the ground running. Our mandate is to speed up service delivery and fight corruption," Mabika said. "We are closely looking at these tenders. If there is enough evidence that proper methods and processes were not followed, we will use our authority to stop them."

He added that there were at least three multi-million rand tenders that would receive special focus. "There are others. In fact we are going to be reviewing all the tenders that were awarded in the past few years. We are also going to do a staff audit to ensure that people who are working in the municipality are here because of merit, rather than through their political affiliation."

However, Mabika said his main priority will be to mitigate the impact of drought in the communities in Jozini and surrounding areas.

The DA in KwaZulu-Natal said it was fully behind the proposed probe into irregularities in the awarding of tenders. The party’s provincial leader, Zwakele Mncwango said one of the reasons for entering into a deal with the IFP in Jozini was to prioritise the fight against corruption.

"The people of Jozini have witnessed an enormous increase in corruption under the ANC, with a forensic investigation by Deloitte revealing irregularities in tenders for solar mast lights. There has also been the questionable awarding of a contract to OPMS and the over-expenditure on renovations made to community halls two years ago." said Mncwango.

Meanwhile, the ANC said it would discipline the councilor who spoilt his vote, resulting in the IFP gaining control of the closely contested Jozini municipality last Friday.